Pakistani natives are making big moves in the tech industry in the United States, creating products and raising hundreds of millions of dollars in startup capital in Silicon Valley while boosting Pakistan’s image as an emerging leader in the international tech community.
These CEOs, founders and tech innovators are paving the way as pioneers, at a time when the Pakistani tech industry is growing at a fast pace. From their offices in the U.S. and Pakistan, these tech executives are helping U.S. and international companies to aggressively invest in Pakistan’s budding technology industry.
Whether they’re creating successful startups or becoming well known for products created at U.S.-based companies, here are some Pakistani American tech stars and expats to watch:
Big Names in the U.S.
Pakistani native Ashar Aziz’s cyber security firm FireEye launched a California-based cyber security company and last year became one of the first Pakistani tech executives to crack the billion dollar mark.
FireEye develops cloud-based products that protects clients’ technological infrastructure from web and email attacks. It also analyzes and provides threat intelligence in real time. The company is a hot prospect in the cloud security business, as more companies scramble to ward off and keep their data networks safe from malicious cyber attacks worldwide.
Before its IPO in 2013, FireEye raised $100 million in funding, backed by Goldman Sachs, Sequoia Capital, Silicon Valley Bank and others. At one point, the company’s share price increased nearly 400 percent.
Riaz Haq is legendary in tech circles, and made notable contributions to the tech industry years before tech investments in Pakistan became a popular buzzword. Haq is one of a half-dozen engineers who made up the award-winning Intel 80386 CPU design team. His work on the Intel family of processors earned him recognition as the Person of the Year by PC Magazine in 1988. Haq is co-founder of DynArray Corp.
Rayid Ghani was the man behind the data in President Obama’s second election. Ghani was the chief scientist whose research on large data sets on Obama’s online supporters helped land him a second term in office .
Ghani earned his data chops while working for Accenture Labs, mainly handling big data and consumer behavior forecasts, while leading analytics R&D. It was that experience that helped him with the Obama campaign, to advertise and appeal to specific audiences using microtargeting. Ghani is now studying how to use data to solve complex social issues in a high-profile position at the University of Chicago.
Zia Yusuf: Yusuf’s company, Streetline, developed “smart parking solutions” — smartphone applications that help drivers locate vacant parking spots in university, airport, garage and other large private parking lots. The company has raised more than $65 million in capital.
Faizan Buzdar: Pakistani startup Convo is the darling of the Silicon Valley VC community, and for good reason. It raised $5 million in capital from Morgenthaler Ventures, a well-known VC firm in Silicon Valley, last year. The company was launched in Islamabad in 2005.
Convo is a multi-platform social network. It lets teams to collaborate more efficiently by combining discussions along with messages, images, documents, presentations and PDFs. Dubbed the “Facebook of Enterprises,” the company says it is used by more than 10% of Fortune 500 companies and has more than 7,000 customers in more than 150 countries. The product is available as a desktop app and has received positive press from influential tech blogs such as TechCrunch, and the company founder was even mentioned in a tweet by President Obama.
Ali Rehan: Rehan is the visionary behind Eyedeus Labs, selected by Google to participate in a summer immersion program in Silicon Valley last summer. The company developed Groopic – a smartphone app that allows you to take a group picture and insert yourself in it. It hopes to make the issue of the photographer not being included in a group pic a thing of the past. The product has been featured on major blogs like CNET, TechCrunch and Gizmodo, and smartphone companies such as Samsung and LG are reportedly interested. The company participated in Plan9, a tech startup innovator in Lahore.
Rehan Jalil: Jalil’s cloud-based security company, Elastica, recently received $6.3 million in funding from Mayfield Ventures, a prominent SiliconValley venture capital firm. The company is a cloud security company that offers real-time threat detection and forensic analysis.
Khushnood Qadir, Shaneeb Kamran, Kush Kumar and Shoaib Makani: This design and development team is the brains behind Keep TruckIn, an app that lets truck drivers in the U.S. log their work and travel time on their smart phones. The app also allows dispatchers to locate the driver and truck. Before developing the app, Qadir, Kamran and Kumar had developed Pagify, a document creation and sharing tool for developers, but agreed to work with Makani on the venture.
The app is based in the U.S, but the tech team is in Islamabad.